For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer.
January 19th, 2011
12:41 PM ET

For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed

Mark Kelly went into the bathroom and broke down.

He had just heard erroneous news reports that his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, had died after being shot in the head at a political event outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store that day, January 8. His daughters cried and his mother nearly screamed, he recalled.  "To hear that she died is just, it's devastating to me," Kelly told Diane Sawyer in an interview broadcast Tuesday night on ABC.

Then, wracked with grief, Kelly said he called his wife's chief of staff, who told him that the reports couldn't be true, that Giffords' mother was with her. Giffords was alive, the chief of staff reassured him.

Kelly, an astronaut, recalled the harrowing 10 days after the shooting rampage and his anguish about the people who died, including a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and one of his wife's staffers. He also spoke about his romance with the congresswoman, their early dating days, and what makes him believe she will pull through.

Kelly hasn't left his wife's side. He holds her hand and falls asleep next to her every night. "I do talk to her, I tell her how long she's been here (in the hospital)," he said. "I tell her I love her."

Giffords has not only stunned the world by surviving a bullet to the brain - only 10% of people with that injury live - but her recovery has been marked with inspiring and emotional moments. Her husband believes she recognizes him. Giffords plays with his wedding ring, Kelly said. She'll move it up and down his finger, take it off and put it on her own finger, sometimes moving it to her thumb. The other day, he said, she was tired, so she took it off his hand, and handed it back to him. Another day, Kelly said, his wife even reached up to give him a neck massage for 10 minutes.

There is an inscription that he put in her ring before they married in 2007: "You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been."

Read the Times' 2007 account of their wedding and's reflection on the event, including the memorable brief rain that happened during the ceremony.

Giffords will reportedly be moved on Friday to a rehabilitation facility to be treated by surgeons who specialize in patients with bullet wounds to the brain, according to an e-mail from her family.

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Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Dexter

    Another thing – why must everyone blame her? I saw someone say they shouldn't do a 'congressman on the corner' as its a law suite.


    And when did it become a crime to earn a bonus in America? Go to college- get a Masters – a good job and succeed. Why is it bad to make a lotof $$$?

    Weird Tea Partyers.........

    January 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Calvin

    Yah, I watched CNN report this false news. It was pretty ridiculous, and there was no apology for the error that day either.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      They all did it – not just CNN.

      CNN rules!!

      Are you a Republican? Just curious!

      January 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Henry

    Tribute to the congresswoman:

    January 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. oh please

    everyone needs a gun
    he shot how many people?
    woulo have shot less if someone shot him.......guns are NOT the problem, INTENT to HARM is the problem. You have to deal with their INTENT.....take away all guns and you still have someone who INTENDS to kill you. DO THE MATH...oh wait,,,most of you cant.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gillian, Atlanta, GA

      Oh so it would have been better to have more than one gun toting idiot firing into a crowded area? Indeed!
      Stop being so freaking paranoid. Look at the crime stats vs our population and in focus on deaths from home invasions. Guns belong in the hands of properly trained people and not idiots like "oh please".

      January 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeW

      Actually, there were two bystanders (including one of those that disarmed the shooter) who were carrying weapons. I'm not trying to take a stance here on gun ownership, gun rights, and the 2nd amendment. But to argue that everyone should carry more guns as a way to stop stuff like this is just silly. There are examples where people get the drops on cops (who are armed). Just b/c you have a sidearm doesn't mean you'll be able to use it effectively in a crisis (and this is what that would be). The overwhelming majority of current gun owners don't have experience pulling a gun when surprised like that. That doesn't mean we should ban guns, only that the response to events like this isn't more arms.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • l

      No, guns are the problem.

      January 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      What is the intent, then, for owning a gun? To be a loving human being?

      January 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      "anonymous" – "What is the intent, then, for owning a gun? To be a loving human being?"

      To be totally honest with you, I feel safer having them. We live on 40 acres and I don't hunt, but I still feel safer with them then without them. BTW, I'm quite liberal too. I just like them and feel safer with them. It's beyond my understanding why anyone would bring any weapons to any political rallies. As in the Tea Party cohorts. I'm a combat veteran, so I know firsthand what damage they can cause.

      Gabby, keep up the good work. This story is more about enduring love, then gun control anyway.

      January 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • getagrip

      Oh course everyone should have a gun...jeez look at the UK they have what 12 gun deaths a year...look at what we're missing. yeah the US is deeply F uped. Guns are part of our heritage, a sick part..but alas the Genie is out of the bottle how do we disarm? well we can't so we're all doomed to continue to deal with whacks and the mentally ill...we suck, a suck deeply...we will end up like Rome..count on it. Yes, I vote and Yes I'm a veteran and yes I pay my taxes graduated from college and believe we all deserve health how novel

      January 19, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Melissa

    There is no way anyone other then the shooter is to blame, it is pathetic that anyone would use this incident to try to further their politcal agenda, this mad man had a problem with her since 2007, long before Palin entered the scene.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. D J Davis


    January 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Instead of that – why don't you try and vote for people that will help curtail the use of these demon guns? Come on – get real!!

      January 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim Brieske

    To hear that she died? Why not, to hear that she went to Heaven? Go crawl into a hole you sorry a** non believing in God weak cowardly man. Quit using and being used by others.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gillian, Atlanta, GA

      Jim, your ilk are the reason why I cannot vote Republican. We do not need a religious state. EVER. We all have the freedom to worship how we want (or not) and that is the way it should stay. You are extremely narrow minded ..

      January 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Yes, be a God beliving strong, brave man, or woman, as Jim Brieske suggests and go buy a gun – today.

      January 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joel-o

    He has lyrics to a Goo Goo Dolls song from a bad movie inscribed on his wedding ring?

    CNN fail for running with the false reports and glossing over their involvment later.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan N

      He's an astronaut, closer to heaven, get it?

      January 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pete

    Dexter, I am a democrat, and you're embarrassing me.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan N

      2nd that! It is kind of amusing though

      January 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Embarrsing you? Listen you mid west freak – get out and vote against crosshairs – Mrs. Palin!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      You should be embarassed to affiliate yourself with any political party.

      January 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EyzWideOpen

    Irresponsible reporting that day. Sensationalism run amuck. How horrible that day was for so many families. RIP to the victims; condolences to their families; and hope that all the survivors have a complete recovery and peaceful lives.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Yea – ur right

      really – you are

      Aren't you??

      January 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MikeBell

    I'm still hopeful that Gabrielle is still all there and will continue to have a fulfilling life.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anti-Dexter

    Dexter Are you a jerk? Just cur...oh wait, we already know the answer.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bird

      Great reply and point for anti-dexter. I believe he is about 8 years old and just trolling to get attention. I think if we all ignore him, maybe he'll go find his rock again.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Are you a Republican? Just curious!!

      Rock? Pay homage to China and lose your rights – thats whats under your rock.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      And you are a 'jerk' expert?

      January 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MikeBell

    Too many in the media and on these blogs remind me of those that spur on fights rather than press for a reconciliatory disengagement of those in conflict. The promotion of conflict is an indulgence of a primitive thirst for a blood sport. This time around the parties in disagreement are realizing that they are being baited or played.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      MikeBell –

      Your anti-violent words enrage me. Perhaps you condone everyone doing nothing.
      First they came fro my neigbor, then they came for my worshippers, then they came fro my classmates – I did nothing, then they came for me – and no one was left to save me.

      Is this what YOU want?

      Are you a Republican? Just curious!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    I'm so glad that Gabby is recovering so rapidly...I pray that she continues to do so.


    Be quiet. You're not playing well with others; I'm afraid you're going to need a time-out. And I'm telling your Mommy.


    Props for the Goo-Goo Dolls reference!

    January 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      Banasy –

      I've got you in my cross hairs!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter


      Meant to say @banasy

      My bad!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. me

    yOUR SO SMALL MINDED dEXTER.. TO put people into political get a life

    January 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      I may be SMALL MiNdEd but you have a real issue with your CaP KeYs – no?
      Cap lock on or off?
      Middle of the road? I say pick a side in the debate – cap lock on too right for you?
      Are you a Republican? Just curious!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter

      @me –

      Give a life and I get one.........

      Sent to me – which is recursive.......

      Now I am talking to myself me – geesh!

      Are you a Republican? Just curious!

      January 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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